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Board meeting sites draw discussion

August 07, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Applause, whispers among audience members and heated words again marked the Jefferson County Board of Education meeting Tuesday night when members discussed whether to hold some board meetings at county schools rather than at their Charles Town office.

In the end, the board voted to hold its second meeting of each month at schools on a rotating basis, for a trial period from September to May.

Members of the community were asked to reply by e-mail as to whether they favored or opposed the proposal. Before the meeting, 44 people wrote to say they favored it, while 14 did not. Updated figures reported at the meeting indicated another 30 people wrote in support of the proposal.

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Board member Doris Cline, reading from a prepared statement, said she did not necessarily take issue with the idea, but rather the method by which replies were garnered.

Cline said she believes the board president - Lori Stilley, whom she did not refer to by name - personally contacted people to respond to the proposal, and used her home computer to do so. She called it "a shady area of propriety," and labeled the data as "skewed."

Board member Paul Manzuk then read some comments from those who opposed the idea, most of whom indicated holding the meetings at various schools would confuse the public and mean more work for the custodial staff and other school employees.

When board member Delores Milstead compared the idea to a school sports schedule, saying nobody is confused by that home-and-away system, some members of the audience applauded.

Almost immediately, Manzuk began speaking over the applause, saying he was disturbed that 22 of the responses in favor of the proposal were e-mailed to Stilley rather than to the contact person listed.

Two members of the audience spoke in favor of the proposal. One added, "I'm actually really thrilled that (Stilley)" works from her home computer.

Despite their objections, Manzuk nor Cline voted for the proposal.

After the trial period, board members will evaluate the system to determine if they will continue holding meetings at schools.

"We won't do it (the evaluation) by e-mail," Milstead said, eliciting laughs. "I'm sorry, I couldn't resist."

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